TRAINING: Barefoot 10k dress rehearsal

Ok, imagine you have spend the last year being quite busy and focusing most of your training on technical work, instead of your usual high mileage. Then imagine you and your coach agree that five weeks from now you’ll run your first barefoot race – 10km barefoot. Imagine it’s in Killarney and you have no idea what the surface will be like. Also imagine that you are currently learning how to vault, to pass a MovNat Trainer certification, so you’re juggling a few things.

Now you know where I stood about 4 weeks ago. 4 days from now I hope to cross the finishing line of the Killarney 10k with a big smile on my face and a respectable time (I’m working at the Expo the day before, and giving a few talks in case you want to come over for a chat – look for the ChampionsEverywhere stand).

So this is what had to be done: Tony Riddle encouraged to pick difficult tarmac so that I would be used to more extreme conditions than the race would likely offer. Check. Secondly, I kept a relentless focus on technique and conditioning and tried to use my vaulting practice as an advantage – it’s explosive after all.

The final test

My final test (Garmin Connect)

With only four days to go, today’s run was my final test. I decided to make it difficult: the first and last mile would be the tarmac road between my house and the Upper Lake in Glendalough. The tarmac here is so rough and cut up that I could not run 400m in Vibrams on it 4 years ago. This was back in the days when I scored 12 out of 21 on a Functional Movement Screen (i.e. “abysmal movement abilities”). The route undulates constantly, which was important as I expect Killarney to be hilly.


Think of it this way: a guy knocks you out. Badly. The birds are singing around your head as they carry you out of the ring. This was my way of saying: “You’ve got nothing on me, I’m stepping back into that ring…”

Control was my primary target. Secondary was to run for significantly longer than I hope to do in the race without running so slowly that it would not be a meaningful challenge. I started quite easy but eventually sped up and went through 10km in 49 minutes and continued another 500m for some “over-distance”.

My racing season only starts in Autumn, so Saturday is a purely technical exercise, yet I want to give a reasonable account of myself. Bring on Killarney, just man versus road…